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COVID-19 hospitalizations are near their record as state officials hope omicron surge is on the decline

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear gives a media briefing at the State Capitol Building on July 14, 2020.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear gives a media briefing at the State Capitol Building on July 14, 2020.

The pressure on Kentucky hospitals from the COVID-19 omicron variant is unrelenting. 

“Hospitalization is near a record high. We are close to the height of the inpatient census we hit during the delta variant surge,” Gov. Andy Beshear said at a press conference Thursday.

Beshear has already called in more than 400 Kentucky National Guard members to help alleviate the pressure in the hospitals, which comes from both an influx of patients as well as a high number of staff out with coronavirus. 

“As of yesterday, we had less than 100 adult ICU beds available in the state that can be staffed,” Beshear said. 

Even with the help of nursing students and guard members, the governor warned that people experiencing non-COVID-related emergencies might soon be affected by the dwindling number of beds available.

“Folks, be careful. When this happens we don’t have room or beds for people who have been hurt in car accidents or have strokes,” Beshear said.

Beshear commented Thursday on the severe COVID cases young Kentuckians are experiencing. 

“This is killing a lot of people who aren’t vaccinated at ages that typically would not die from a virus,” Beshear said.   

Beshear showed a chart during the press conference illustrating major shifts in the age distribution of deaths in Kentucky since June.

Those in the 70 and older category went from making up three-quarters of the chart to half, as younger groups began to take up more space. Beshear related this directly to those 70 and older being among the most vaccinated with younger populations having a smaller vaccination rate.

Beshear also took a moment to reflect on the death toll. 

“We’ve lost 12,817 Kentuckians,” Beshear said. “More than, I think, in any of the wars in our history, and that’s in 20 months.” 

Despite increasing hospitalization and an ever-growing death count, officials expressed a glimmer of hope when it comes to the omicron surge.

“If we follow the trends that others are, if this week is higher than last week, then next week we truly believe that we will be lower,” Beshear said. 

Even with the potential decline on the horizon, the numbers will still be high given the records reached during the surge.

“We gotta ride the dip a couple of weeks,” Beshear said. “But we hope that it descends as fast as it ascended.”

Breya Jones is the Arts & Culture Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.

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